Herbert Lotman, who gave America the frozen fast-food hamburger patty and the Chicken McNugget, has sold Keystone Foods, his West Conshohocken-based multinational meat processor, to Brazil's Marfrig Alimentos SA for $1.26 billion.
The acquisition gives Marfrig a supplier with plants in the United States and a dozen other countries less than a month after the U.S. Department of Agriculture blocked imports from plants owned by Marfrig and other meat-packers in Brazil as it reviews foreign inspection procedures.
Fast-growing Marfrig reported sales of $4.9 billion last year; the company's value on Brazil's main stock market is nearly $6 billion.
Lotman, a butcher's son who grew up at 59th and Chestnut and later in Wynnefield, built the family business from a South Philadelphia beef-boning plant into a multinational chain with assembly lines and freezers across the middle of the U.S., from Alabama to Wisconsin, and in Australia, China, France, Israel, and Malaysia, among other nations.
The firm's products, including boneless chicken portions in a fatty crust, and the frozen burgers Keystone began selling in the 1970s when the Arab oil embargo drove up beef prices, made it a major supplier to McDonald's and other restaurant chains.
"I'm just a butcher boy," Lotman told me in an interview last month. "I grew up as a butcher truck driver. Overbrook High School, that was my college."
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Not so far
Unisys Corp., the Blue Bell-based computer service company, has moved its headquarters down Union Meeting Road into one of its own former computer factories, newly renovated "Building B," leaving vacant the longtime headquarters inherited from pioneering predecessor Univac.
No sign announces the new HQ yet. Unisys has applied to Whitpain Township for logos visible from PA 73 (Skippack Pike), spokesman Jim Kerr told me. The two planned signs will be smaller than Unisys' previous sign.
Unisys employs around 24,000. That includes 1,000 in the Philadelphia area, down from 1,400 two years ago, as it's sold off businesses and outsourced headquarters jobs.
Unisys' previous boss, Joseph McGrath, in late 2007 had proposed moving with 200 top executives and staffers to Two Liberty Place in Center City to make it easier to recruit young engineers and managers.
But other Two Liberty tenants, including Cigna Corp., balked at Unisys' plan to post its logo on that austere blue-glass tower. Unisys canceled the move and McGrath left the company amid the recession.
Unisys' current boss, turnaround specialist J. Edward Coleman, has no intention of leaving Blue Bell. What is continuing, as Coleman has promised investors, is the sale of Unisys assets and the outsourcing of Unisys jobs.
Most recently that includes some of Unisys' own internal IT guys, who have been shifted to Indian-owned Hexaware Technologies, a "longtime partner" of Unisys, as the company "consolidated and outsourced day to day information technology support" and applications, Kerr told me.
Pay it back
Lincoln National Corp., the Radnor-based life insurer that sponsors the Eagles' Lincoln Financial Field, said Monday that it's preparing to repay the $950 million that the U.S. Treasury invested in the company via the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) after the 2008 stock market collapse hurt Lincoln's investments.
"We appreciate the critical role the government and the American taxpayers have played in stabilizing the financial markets," said chairman Dennis Glass in a statement. Lincoln will raise cash with a $335 million common stock offering, a $250 million senior notes offering, and cash it's already piled up.
Lincoln also plans to sell up to another half-billion dollars in senior notes "as part of a long-term financing solution" to support its universal life insurance policies.
TARP investments in Lincoln and rival Hartford Financial raised questions in Washington. (Under new CEO Liam McGee, former consumer loan boss at Bank of America, Hartford said in March it was repaying its $3.4 billion TARP obligation, also by selling stock and notes.)
As I noted in a column last December, Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky questioned the government's decision to invest billions in scarce taxpayer dollars in Hartford and Lincoln when their business - selling insurance - had "little to do with lending to consumers and businesses."
Argosy Capital, Wayne, said it has raised $180 million from private investors to buy small companies and real estate through a new fund, Argosy Investment Partners IV L.P.
Cofounder John Paul Kirwin 3d says Argosy does mostly "lower-middle market investing" in industrial and service companies, apartment complexes and neighborhood shopping centers.
"We think those are less-efficient markets," with more opportunity for profit, "because the transactions aren't large enough to attract the big funds, but they are big enough that you're not competing with individual investors."
Argosy has raised $500 million in the 20 years since engineer Kirk Griswold, lawyer Kirwin and investment manager Bruce Terker set up their first fund.
Argosy lists current investments in 37 companies. Local examples include Philadelphia-based lighting-maker Simkar Inc., Malvern-based office-trailer provider Vanguard Modular Building Systems, financial consultants Solomon Edwards Group of King of Prussia, outsourcer Advanced Call Center Technologies L.L.C., Berwyn, Dayton Parts L.L.C., a Harrisburg truck-maker, and Sure Fit Inc., Allentown, which makes furniture slipcovers.